Make us your home page
Instagram

Insurance agencies, consumers take stock of Hurricane Irma damage

Consumers and insurance companies are still taking stock of damages following Hurricane Irma. 
Bill Quinn inspects the foundation where his mobile home used to stand at the Seabreeze Trailer Park in Islamorada, Fla. | [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

Consumers and insurance companies are still taking stock of damages following Hurricane Irma. Bill Quinn inspects the foundation where his mobile home used to stand at the Seabreeze Trailer Park in Islamorada, Fla. | [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

Now that the dust has begun to settle following Hurricane Irma, Floridians are returning home to assess any damage and begin the insurance claims process.

"Our insurance consumer hotline has been hopping all day," said Ashley Carr, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Financial Services said Tuesday afternoon. The hotline fields insurance-related questions from consumers.

As of late Tuesday, insurance agencies and consumers alike are still in assessment mode, and most insurance companies contacted by the Tampa Bay Times did not yet have an estimate for storm-related damages.

COMPLETE COVERAGE:Find all our coverage about Hurricane Irma here

Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurance provider, is currently processing about 150,000 claims related to the storm. "It's less than what we had originally expected," Michael Peltier, spokesperson for Citizens, said. "At one point, we were (expecting) over 200,000."

But that may change as more people return home and assess damage. Currently, Citizens is receiving the highest number of claims from the Keys, southwest Florida and the greater Miami area. While these areas sustained considerable damage from the hurricane, they are also the areas where Citizens' has most of its policies.

USAA spokesperson Matthew Hartwig said the San Antonio, Tx.-based company is currently mobilizing response personnel. "Our resources are heading into the state of Florida as we speak," Hartwig said Tuesday morning.

The next challenge insurance companies will face is getting enough insurance adjusters out to areas in need. Adjusters are insurance agents who assess damage to a property once a claim is filed.

Citizens will likely deploy its adjusters within the next day or two. Last week, the insurer's board voted to push through contracts for an additional 300 insurance adjusters, bringing the agency's total up to about 800 going into Hurricane Irma.

Board votes to expand Citizens' emergency response powers

Peltier said the insurer is not currently expecting any shortages of insurance adjusters, but the agency may be stretched slightly given that Hurricane Irma came on the heels of Hurricane Harvey.

USAA also does not expect to have a shortage of insurance adjusters.

Because it is fairly early in the process, consumers aren't taking to social media or consumer-focused government agencies with complaints yet. Carr, spokesperson for DFS, said she was not currently aware of any consumer complaints related to insurance adjusters.

"Everyone at this stage is still getting back into their homes and is just starting the claims process," she said.

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.

If you are planning on submitting an insurance claim:

• Take pictures of any damage.

• Call your insurance company first to avoid any companies attempting to scam you.

• Before you hire a contractor, research the company on sites such as the Better Business Bureau to ensure the company is credible.

• Check a company or contractor's license on the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation's portal here: https://tinyurl.com/2jdxfc.

• If you aren't sure where to start, or have questions about the claims process, call the Florida Department of Financial Service's insurance consumer hotline at 877-693-5236.

Insurance agencies, consumers take stock of Hurricane Irma damage 09/12/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 7:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Housing scam: Rise of fraudulent deeds throws wrench into home ownership

    Real Estate

    Two years ago, Realtor Rod Banks put a vacant home in Valrico on the market. One day, when he stopped by to check on the house, it was vacant no more.

    A woman clutches a pillow as a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy looks around the Valrico home that was "stolen'' using a fraudulent deed, according to the Hillsborough state attorney's office. Two women have been arrested on theft and fraud charges. [Courtesy of Rod Banks]
  2. Online purchases, gift cards expected to rule holiday shopping

    Retail

    The name of the game for this holiday shopping season is online purchases and gift cards. According to a holiday shopping forecast by AAA, The Auto Club Group, Floridians are expected to spend $951 on gifts — up 9 percent from last year — and much of that is likely to be online.

    AAA, The Auto Club Group, predicts this holiday shopping season to revolve around online purchases and gift cards. | [Times file photo]
  3. Can toy stores create Toys 'R' Us kids in an Amazon world?

    Consumer

    Stefanie Dunlop is pinning high hopes on her Fingerlings.

     Stefanie Dunlop, owner of two Learning Express Toys chain stores in Tampa and Clearwater, helps customers at the Learning Express Toys store inside the Westfield Citrus Park mall in Tampa , FL, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. As more people turn to online for their toy-shopping, businesses from big corporate stores to smaller chains to independents are doing what they can to stay in the black. Gabriella Angotti-Jones  | Times
  4. Workers at luxury St. Pete condo tower say they are owed thousands

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly three dozen workers at ONE St. Petersburg, a luxury condo tower under construction in the heart of downtown, haven't been paid in weeks and are owed thousands of dollars.

    Construction workers Robert Cabral, left, and John Obermeier, both of Hudson, have not been paid in weeks. They are masons for the ONE St. Petersburg luxury condo building, shown in background, in the city's downtown. [Lara Cerri   |  Times]
  5. Ybor City, flirting again with stadium, nearly landed one to host bullfights

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — The clang of cowbells would sound across Ybor City if fans of the Tampa Bay Rays get a new stadium there some day.

    A bloodless bullfight in Orlando in October 1970 was made possible by legislation that Tampa leaders pushed with Ybor City in mind. The Latin district never got to host one, though, before the sport was banned again. [Times files]